A Healthy State of Mind

For me, that healthy state is called Colorado. I grew up here, then lived in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’m celebrating a five-year anniversary since returning home to the Mile High State on “March forth!” 2011—a memorable date.

Coming home cured most of what ailed me.

No longer oppressed by fog-bound San Francisco summers, I jettisoned my full-spectrum lamp. (That’s a substitute for sunlight; it helps people who get depression related to Seasonal Affective Disorder.) I also ditched a whole drawer-full of asthma inhalers and allergy medications. The formerly sad, breathless, housebound gal marched forth: I was soon back skiing. I began teaching figure-skating classes. In the summer, I went out hiking and bicycling.

It’s wonderful what clean air, 300 days of sunshine a year and abundant outdoor exercise will do for a body, not to mention the spirit!

A decade ago, I took a Kaiser-Permanente class on how to prevent depression. Outside of SSRI medications and cognitive behavioral therapy, the best prescriptions are to go outside, get into the sunshine, exercise and spend time with friends. Mostly, that’s what we do here. It’s our lifestyle.

It’s part of why Colorado ranks as the nation’s eighth-healthiest state. We have the lowest level of obesity, the highest level of active gym membership and a low rate of diabetes. But among our challenges are binge drinking (11th in state rankings in 2014), whooping cough outbreaks, kids who are less active than adults and serious disparities in access to health care.

In this valley, we suffer from binge drinking and too many suicides. And our healthcare challenges are pronounced. There’s a serious gap between the healthcare and the housing that many locals can afford and what’s available. I feel the loss of too many people who have moved away because of these issues.

I’m grateful for the leaders who are addressing these problems. I’d like to give a shout-out here to Basalt Mayor Jacquie Carpenter Whitsitt and the Basalt Chamber of Commerce for convening recent healthcare forums and to Amy Kimberly, executive director of the Carbondale Council for Arts and Humanities, for her work on convening folks to think of creative solutions to our housing problems. I’m raising a glass of Big B’s apple cider and giving these two a toast.

And while I’m at it, here’s a toast to our loyal readers: Here’s to your health! May you make age curious, time furious, and all of your friends envious!